I went home the other weekend and experienced something fascinating: I had more people ask about my husband’s work than ask about mine.
Now, he is doing something exciting and I legitimately love talking about him and his achievements. I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to talk about his PhD and the fact that his current job is literally getting paid to read. It’s the best job in the world for him and he is flourishing, which is amazing to see and share.
But, ok, he got in a year ago and he’s doing it for the next five years.
I, on the other hand, am embarking on a new career! I’m in a new space and doing new things. And no one really asked me about it. I mean my closest people talked to me about my stuff and my jobs and they’re great (so, guys, I’m not talking to you, you rock). But in general the focus was on my husband.
So, I’ve thought about it and developed two theories as to why.
- People just don’t know how to talk to someone who isn’t working. I get it. I was nervous trying to figure out what I was going to say when people asked me what I was doing. There’s a negative stigma about not having a career, even internally. It’s like a constant battle between figuring out what’s good for you, but also not wanting to appear lazy. Which is ridiculous – but who cares if you say that because you never feel it. I know it’s not just me feeling this either. I can see it in the subtle head tilt I see people do when they say they’re stay at home moms or dads. They look to the right and say something like “I’m a mom, but I also do…” Like somehow they have to be more than moms. But motherhood is enough, it is everything you need. It’s not just parents though, you watch for it the – look right, ” Oh I’m doing online work, but I’m also…” Like we need a title for it to count. Like we need the money for it to mean something… And people sensed the tilt would be my response, so they just didn’t ask. They were just as ashamed of my not having a career and I was about saying that.
- People assume that the man’s job is more important. This may be a feminist outburst – or just a social construct. Or maybe I’m reading into things – but I think it does hold weight. In general, since getting married, I’ve noticed that people are significantly less interested in my career than they were before marriage. People have been asking about my husband’s prospects five years down the road, but not mine a week from now. I think maybe there is an underlying assumption that he should be supporting me, so why even bother asking.
I imagine that there were a lot of reasons that people didn’t ask. And some people fall into the categories listed above, and others just knew my status and therefore didn’t feel the need to ask. Whatever the reason, next time someone asks maybe I’ll say “finding my bliss” just to screw with them.